The Case for Housing
What is your current housing situation?
With regards to the current housing crises in Vancouver, especially for international students, I see it as a great blessing to be residing in my current place. It is three times less expensive than the regular rent in Vancouver. The house itself is a three-bedroom house with a beautiful studio-like basement. I live in one of the rooms in the basement but I share the kitchen, bathroom and toilet with the landlord, Eugene, a 93-year-old man. Transportation accessibility is easy as it’s about 16 km from UBC and 1 km from Joyce Collingwood SkyTrain station. It takes me about 45-50 minutes to commute to school straight on bus number 43.
What have you learnt by living with Eugene?
Living with Eugene is eye opening. He tells me lots of his life stories, we discuss the Bible together, and social, economic, and political issues about Canada. Though he is very conservative and evangelical, I tried to engage him in some of the things I learnt from VST. This gives me the platform to learn how to be tolerant and give audience to people. Personally, I believe the Lord brought Eugene into my life to teach me to be patient, paying attention and learning some new things I never knew about the elderly. He is sometimes disoriented and agitated about the news on the TV or sermons he hears in church. He carries his agitation on everyone that comes his way. I have learned to cope with his agitation and cognitive magnitude. Personally, I’m very grateful to be part of his life. Within this short time of living with him, I have learnt so much about living with an elderly person. It is a privilege also to serve and love him. I’m grateful.
He used to live alone until his daughter, Patty Lou, came to live with him for about six months. Patty Lou is now working on one of the islands in BC as a nurse instructor. Eugene is now back to his normal routine for doing everything by himself. I see it as an opportunity to give him any help he needs, and serve him with every opportunity I get. I help him with the cooking sometimes. I also do all the cleaning in the house. Even though Eugene is sometimes adamant when it comes to helping him cook and shop, I willingly monitor his movements in case he falls or injures himself.
Do you think other international students could benefit from living with the elderly?
I realized there are so many elderly people like Eugene out there who should be encouraged to host international students through a special arrangement. This will not only lessen the burden of expensive rent on foreign students, but also give them the opportunity to learn so many things about Canadian history, culture, and the difference between the past and the present Canada from these elders. It will also provide a platform for the elderly to have someone listen to them to avoid loneliness.
Frederick Ametepe is an international student from Ghana, and a medical doctor by profession. He is taking the MA program in Pastoral and Public Leadership at VST. He lived in China for 7 years and speaks fluent Mandarin. He’s married to Deborah, they have a 3-year-old daughter named Dela.